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

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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!

Barn Sweater, “mendfulness” and Taproot 11

Barn Sweater, "mendfulness" and Taproot 11

If you’ve seen this perfect lazy-Saturday sweater design by Carrie Bostick Hoge, the Barn Sweater, and have been wondering where on earth Taproot 11 is, I’m happy to report that it’s now waiting for you at Fringe Supply Co! I got a glance at the sweater and ordered an extra-huge pile of this issue … which then went to California before getting rerouted to Tennessee. My fault. But the important thing is: It’s here now! Of all the Taproot issues so far, this is the one I am most yearning to sit down with for an uninterrupted expanse of time. Among the many great home and skincare potion recipes and knitting and sewing patterns (this time for a Hauschen Doorstop made from old quilts) is an essay on “mendfulness” — such a fantastic word! — by Katrina Rodabaugh (who you may remember from my account of that rather moving “Boro and embroidermending” class I took last spring). It’s a great issue.

I’ve also restocked the bentos, added a smattering of Bookhou large pocket and oblong pouches, and did you get your copy of the new Pom Pom yet?

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Cable amazement of the 1960s-80s

Cable amazement of the 1960s-80s

An exceptionally thoughtful blog reader emailed me the other day to say that she had come into possession of a friend’s grandmother’s collection of vintage knitting publications and that there were some Aran sweater (aka fisherman sweater) booklets in there she wondered if I would like. WOULD I?! Yesterday evening, just as the daylight was waning, I pulled them out of my mailbox — 5 booklets (dozens of patterns) ranging from 1963-1987 — and nearly fainted. I’d give just about anything to be able to republish these patterns (despite every stitch being written out; not a chart in the bunch!) but in lieu of that, I thought I’d show you some of my favorite photos. Pardon the quality, but I couldn’t stand to wait for a better lighting situation/location than the parking lot at dusk.

The last photo below just absolutely kills me. Thank you so much, Catherine!

By the way, while all of this was happening, the Swon Brothers were shooting a music video outside my studio, so I was already swooning a little. Damn, those boys can SING.

Cable amazement of the 1960s-80s

I need to get publication rights for this one so we can all knit it for next year’s #fringeandfriendsknitalong, am I right?

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

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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

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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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First of the Best of Spring 2015: Creatures of Comfort

First of the best knits of Spring 2015

It’s early days, but already the Spring 2015 collections are making me think I could learn to love warm-weather dressing. (Hot-weather dressing is another story.) One of my favorites so far is Creatures of Comfort, due in large part to the presence of that elusive garment I love so well, the vest. The show combines haberdashery vests and sweater vests — sometimes in the same look. But I also think that slouchy black-and-grey pullover paired with the sunny yellow skort (what do you call it?) is the perfect between-seasons look.

First of the best knits of Spring 2015

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.