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

 

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

WIP of the Week, week 4

WIP of the Week, week 4

One of my favorite #fringeandfriendsknitalong moments last week was the day @rhiowens and @clairemueller posted back-to-back photos of their twin Ondawa WIPs on Instagram (here and here). Not only did they happen to post them in sequence, they appeared to be on the exact same row of the pattern. It was a little spooky! And both were so beautiful they made me take another look at that pattern. Claire’s caption was about having organized the multiple charts into one plastic sleeve to keep it portable, but it was hard to imagine anyone actually taking this on public transportation. This week, I chuckled at this picture of her with her sweater and her page protector on the train. Have yarn, will travel indeed, Claire! So congratulations, you’ve won this week’s amazing prize, which is 3 hanks of delicious, cream, 10-ply Cormo from Tonofwool at the birthplace of Cormo in Tasmania. There’s a reason it’s called @tonofwool: those skeins are huge! Can’t wait to see what you make of it. And thank you, Ms. Gusset, for the lovely prize!

I also want to say congratulations to Audrey, who as far as I know is the first knitalonger to complete her Amanda (which coincidentally happens to be knitted from Tonofwool). Great job!

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IN TINY SHOP NEWS, a few big baskets and big totes arrived this week!

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone! If you need a good chuckle, read through the hilarious responses on yesterday’s Q for You. I love you people.

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PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: Amanda panel progress report: Let’s see these sweaters!

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.

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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!

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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!)

WIP of the Week, week 3 (plus new buttons!)

WIP of the Week, week 3 (plus new buttons!)

Oh, you guys, it was SO HARD to pick a #fringeandfriendsknitalong WIP of the Week this week. I wish I had at least four prizes to give out, and I’m certain it’s going to keep getting harder every week. But in the end, I decided this week’s prize goes to Catherine Wendland, who goes by “wendlandcd” both on Instagram and on Ravelry. Catherine’s Amanda has become a Flat Stanley of sorts, and I’ve been enjoying seeing it at the hardware store and on a city bench and, in the case of the above photo, at what does appear to be a very lovely park. So Catherine, you’ve won a $150 gift certificate to the brand new Fancy Tiger Crafts online store! Please let me know how we can get in touch with you about redeeming your prize.

Congratulations to Catherine and to the wonderful Fancy Tiger ladies on the launch of their beautiful new site! (Make sure you update your bookmark or RSS for their blog, by the way.)

I want to make sure everyone knows how to see all of the amazing sweaters that are happening as part of this knitalong. Photos are mainly appearing at Instagram and Ravelry. If you’re in the Instagram app, you can search on the hashtag #fringeandfriendsknitalong. Otherwise, it’s been brought to my attention that there are third-party websites that will allow you to see hashtagged Instagram pics (since their own website does not), e.g. Websta. (It ain’t a pretty page, but at least you can see the pics.) And for Ravelry, you can see all of the tagged project pages right here. If you’re blogging about your WIP, please remember to link to it from the comments here!

Keep those photos comin’! There’s another awesome prize to be awarded next Friday.

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NEW! Buttons worty of your handmade garments

In Fringe Supply Co. news, I have a bunch of buttons that have been patiently waiting for me to photograph and post them, so this week I picked out four varieties that happen to come in Amanda-appropriate sizes. I know none of us are anywhere near the buttonbands-and-buttons stage, but I love having buttons picked out in advance — it’s like the carrot on the end of that stick! Clockwise from top left, they are: concave cream bone, a beautiful tea-stained looking bone; soft concave corozo, in ivory, navy and black; concave horn disc in horn (obvs), bleached horn and extra-bleached horn; and narrow rim grommet corozo in navy, crimson, black and plum.

I’m thinking of pale buttons for my ivory Amanda, and am debating between the concave cream bone and the soft concave corozo in ivory, both of which would be gorgeous. But it would also be amazing with the contrast of the horn or the black with the gold grommets! Right? So many great choices.

And of course, lots of options there for all the other projects of the world, as well. I also received a few baskets this week — natural and patterned. And the cable needles are finally available in ebony again.

Have a stellar weekend everyone! I’m planning to get my clothes out of the suitcase finally, hopefully look for a couch, and then I shall KNIT!

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PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: In pursuit of sleeve perfection

Next of the best of Spring 2015: Lace cardigans

Next of the best of Spring 2015: Lace cardigans

The Spring 2015 collections have been soooo mesmerizingly beautiful. If I hadn’t already sold or donated nearly everything I owned, I’d be inspired to do so now, and to start over with all sorts of pretty, girly things, like those seen at Chloé and Sea in particular. So I’ve loved looking at these shows — really, one of the best overall seasons in ages — despite their having been almost entirely devoid of knits. Sob! So tragic.

What few sweaters did appear have been forgettably basic, and maybe that’s why these two stood out from the, umm, crowd. But however you want to look at it, if you want to be on-trend sweater-wise for Spring, think in terms of a sweet lace cardigan, as seen at Michael Kors and A Détacher.

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IMPORTANT REMINDER: Tomorrow morning I’ll be announcing the third winner of our WIP of the Week for the #fringeandfriendsknitalong. So don’t forget to share you knits!

In pursuit of sleeve perfection

In pursuit of sleeve perfection

So, sleeves! First let’s recap what our illustrious and industrious panel is doing here, since there are few people switching teams during the sleeve portion of the #fringeandfriendsknitalong, and I think this is interesting:

Team Seamed Sleeves: Kate, Anna, Rebekka, Amy, Meg, me
Team Seamless Sleeves: Jaime

As Jaime said, “What the heck?” I really thought more people would opt to do the sleeves seamlessly. For me the only argument against is that, with all the cabling, I feel like it’ll be faster to knit them flat and seam than it would be to do them in the round. So I might as well have the benefit of that seam.

I also want to point out in Amy’s sweet photo of her sunbathing sleeves up there (love that project bag!) that although it looks like she’s knitting both sleeves on one long needle, she’s technically not. But she is knitting them simultaneously. If you have Second Sleeve Syndrome, it’s something to think about. You can do like Amy, or even just cast on both sleeves on the same long needle — you’ll be working two pieces of fabric from two balls — and work those sleeves side-by side. That way you finish them both at once and can be utterly certain that you increased on all the same rows and so on. I’ve never done it before but am definitely planning to do it here.

Apart from that, there are three things I want to discuss about sleeves today:

1) PATTERN PLACEMENT

There were a couple of people asking in comments way back about whether the sleeves needed to end on the same chart row as the fronts and back. I mistakenly answered that it didn’t matter, I guess thinking for a brief moment that this was a set-in sleeve sweater or something. Because this yoke is joined in one piece at the underarms and worked seamlessly upward from there, you will want to be on the same row of the chart when you join all the pieces. That way your honeycomb will line up and you won’t have to keep track of being on different rows in different charts.

There have also been questions from people about how to know where to stop with the sleeves if you’ve done them first, since the pattern instructs you to end at the same chart row as the back. Regardless of whether you start with the body or sleeves, my best advice is think of it as tentative. Put your stitches on waste yarn and know that you might need to adjust one or the other upward or downward. For me, the sleeve length is more critical than the body length — I want that sleeve to hit me exactly at the top of my hand, whereas I have less precise wishes for the body length. It just needs to be in the right neighborhood. So even though I’ve started with the body, I’ll knit my sleeves to where I want them and then adjust my body pieces to match that spot. You may do whichever makes the most sense to you.

2) SLEEVE LENGTH

This is a soapbox of mine. I’ve touched on it in the row gauge post and elsewhere, but want to say again that where your final sleeve cuff hits you is a function of sleeve length (meaning, how far you knit before the underarm shaping) plus armhole depth. The sleeve length given in the pattern may or may not be right for you. With your arm hanging straight down, have someone measure from the top of your shoulder to your wrist. Then take a look at the armhole depth in the pattern schematic. Let’s say your desired shoulder-to-wrist length is 23″. And let’s say the pattern’s armhole depth is meant to be 7.25″ of that. That means your sleeve needs to be 15.75″ from cast-on to underarm. BUT, that’s also assuming your row gauge matches the pattern gauge, which is the only way your yoke dimension will match the schematic dimension. If your row gauge is 10% bigger, your yoke will be 10% longer, making your armhole depth 8″. If you attach that same 15.75″ sleeve to it, you now have a total sleeve length of 23.75″, almost an inch longer than you wanted it. And if you had knitted the 17.25″ sleeve the pattern calls for, your sleeve would now be hanging halfway down your hand. So if you’re picky about sleeves, pay close attention to all of your measurements. And maybe re-read that row gauge post.

3) INCREASING IN PATTERN

Many have asked about this, and here again I’m going to hand the microphone to Kate Gagnon Osborn. Take it away, Kate—

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For ease of space (as more space = more cost), it is industry standard to not chart out a full sleeve and, instead, instruct the knitter to “… work sts in patt as number of sts permits …,” but how do you “increase in pattern” exactly?

As you’re increasing, you will actually be working stitches in stockinette until you have enough stitches to work a full repeat of the stitch pattern. In the case of the Amanda sleeves, this means one cable cross, or a total of 4 stitches. Below, I’ve charted the sleeve with 4 increases to show how this would look in your knitting.

NOTE: The edge stitch is not charted — always work the edge stitches (aka selvedge stitches) as written in the pattern. Also, only the right side of the sleeve is included below; the same rules apply to the left half of the sleeve. As this particular pattern has you begin to increase after a certain length on your sleeve (not at a certain row), you may find that you are working your increases on a different row of the chart than pictured. The process is the same, regardless of where your increases may fall.

How to increase in pattern

Increase #1: After working one increase, you have [a multiple of 4 stitches] + 1 in the honeycomb portion of your sleeve. You will work all of your honeycomb stitches as charted, and this newly increased stitch in stockinette stitch (knit on the right side, purl on the wrong side).

How to increase in pattern

Increase #2: After working two increases, you have [a multiple of 4 stitches] + 2 in the honeycomb portion of your sleeve. You will work all of your honeycomb stitches as charted, and your two extra stitches in stockinette stitch.

How to increase in pattern

Increase #3: After working three increases, you have [a multiple of 4 stitches] + 3 in the honeycomb portion of your sleeve. You will work all of your honeycomb stitches as charted, and your three extra stitches in stockinette stitch.

How to increase in pattern

Increase #4: This is where it gets fun! After working four total increases, you are back to a pure multiple of 4 in the honeycomb portion of your sleeve. You will continue to work all of your honeycomb stitches as charted, and the 4 increased stitches in stockinette, until you reach the next row with a cable cross. Then, you will work these 4 stitches in the cable cross, maintaining the alternating left/right leaning cable pattern when doing so. If, as in my sample chart, a cable cross occurs on the same row as your 4th increase, wait until the next cross to work it into your honeycomb pattern — so you’re not trying to increase and cable on the same stitch.

Simply continue in this way until you have worked all of your increases!
KGO

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Thanks again, Kate!

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PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: WIP of the Week, week 2 (and other fun stuff)

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Photo © Amy Christoffers, charts © Kate Gagnon Osborn; used with permission