Queue Check — August 2016

Queue Check — August 2016

My phase of serial monogamy seems to have officially ended. It was nice while it lasted, but now instead of completing any knitting projects, I just keep casting on new ones! There are currently five sweaters and two hats on my needles. One sweater and both hats are officially registered with Wool Protective Services as orphans at this point, but that leaves four active sweaters:

1) The black Linen Quill cardigan is the longest I’ve ever taken to complete a simple top-down sweater. In my defense, other sweaters with hard deadlines have pulled me away from it. But this continues to be the sweater I most urgently need. So in Stockinette Situations for the foreseeable future, this is the one I’ll reach for.
Current status: body is complete and one sleeve barely started; needs sleeves, pocket and button band

2) The purple Lettlopi pullover that was the basis of the new Improv pattern and revised tutorial would be the quickest one to finish, and it would be nice to have a photo to post and something to cross off! But it’s the least pressing in terms of being even remotely wearable, much less needed. Motivation will come blowing in around Thanksgiving.
Current status: body nearly complete; needs a second sleeve, another pass at whipstitching the neckband down, and some seams

3) The long-awaited Channel Cardigan in Clever Camel is finally on the needles! This is the one I simply want the most desperately — and I can’t stop fantasizing about somehow having it for my travels in early October — but I know it’s going to be a long road and I’ll have to be patient.
Current status: just half of one sleeve, with a dropped ply in the fisherman’s rib to be dealt with

4) My Top-Down Knitalong sweater in Shibui Pebble is a joy to knit and I know I’ll absolutely love wearing it, but I expect to be working on it for awhile!
Current status: yoke is just past the neck join, long ways to go

On the sewing front, rather than making those 5 things I said I wanted to complete before summer ends, I apparently decided to make 3 of 1 thing! I’ll post those FOs soon, but the other 4 pieces remain in the queue!


PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: July 2016

Knit the Look: Nastya Zhidkikh’s sexy little pullover

Knit the Look: Nastya Zhidkikh's sexy little pullover

I just ran across this older photo of Vanessa Jackman’s I had bookmarked awhile back, and had a whole new reaction to it. It’s Russian model Nastya Zhidkikh wearing a sweater that Jess did the perfect swatch for in her first Swatch of the Month post! It’s fisherman’s rib knitted on proportionally large needles for an open, lacy fabric, but in this case it looks like there’s a little bit of gauge-blocking as well: The upper part of the front yoke is done at a finer gauge. If you skip over that little detail and do it all at one gauge, this would be super simple to replicate as a top-down raglan, using my Improv pattern. Seriously, it’s like Jess’ swatch, Jen’s knitalong sweater and my black lopi raglan all merged into this sweater. If you like the marl of Nastya’s sweater, you could hold two strands of fingering-weight yarn together and use even larger needles than Jess did. I like the idea of using a Shibui’s sport-weight Twig for this — a blend of linen, recycled silk and wool with an unusual texture that I think might hold up nicely to this use! And if you’re not into the visible bra trend, it would look fantastic over a little camisole.

See this post of Vanessa’s for additional photos of this sweater — same model, different day.


PREVIOUSLY in Knit the Look: Windowpane scarf


Street style photo © Vanessa Jackman; used with permission

Make Your Own Basics: The t-shirt

Make Your Own Basics: The t-shirt

In our continuing quest for handmade basics, we’ve talked about tank top patterns and about that very specific tee that’s a category unto itself, the marinière (both knitted and sewn, for all of the above). Liesl Gibson’s Maritime Top pattern linked in the marinière post is an excellent option for any boatneck, three-quarter-sleeve tee you might want to make — navy striped or otherwise! For a trendier, more boxy tee, there’s Fancy Tiger’s Wanderlust. For a baseball-style tee there’s Named’s Geneva. But when it comes to the ultra-basic, timeless t-shirt and you want to sew your own, I don’t know of a better option than Grainline’s Lark Tee pattern — especially since the variety of neckline options (boat, V, crew, scoop) and sleeve lengths (cap, short, three-quarter, long) means you can make 16 different t-shirt styles with that one pattern! As you know, I just recently made my first t-shirt and it was a revelation. Store-bought tees are always way too long for my taste, so I’m on a mission to get good at sewing knits!

For good knitted tee patterns, see Moon Tee, Nauset Tee and Edie.


PREVIOUSLY in Make Your Own Basics: The blue jeans

How to knit a compound raglan

How to knit a compound raglan

For this week’s Top-Down Knitalong post, I want to address the notion of a compound raglan, even though I know a lot of you are already past thinking about your yoke! But it’s interesting to think about and maybe play with on your next sweater, if not your current one. (I definitely think you want to have a grasp on the standard raglan method before messing around with this!) Shaped raglans are one of those things I started tinkering with when I was first knitting, just pondering how sewn patterns come together as opposed to how top-down raglans are created, and long before I heard the term “compound raglan.” What does it mean? When you knit a raglan the traditional top-down way (as detailed in my tutorial), what you’re making for the yoke is a flat rectangle with a hole in the middle for your head and mitered corners, which are the raglan “seams.” By increasing evenly in all four sections of the sweater, you’re creating raglans at a 45° angle to the neck, which isn’t necessarily the most flattering line running across the body, depending on the body in question and how high/low those angles start and so on. With a compound raglan, you increase at different rates in the sleeves and body, allowing you to create more of a curved raglan line.

My first attempt at it was just spacing out the raglan increases and then varying the rate of increase toward the bottoms of them, so that the fabric would sort of bend toward the underarms more gracefully, as explained in this old post. When I went to knit my black lopi pullover earlier this year, I wanted the ease of the raglan process but a look that was more like a saddle shoulder. I took a good look at (and some measurements from) a saddle-shoulder sweater in my closet, and wondered why I couldn’t just start out with a higher proportion of sleeve stitches than tradition calls for, and not increase them as quickly or as much. That would mean the sleeve-top sts would stay fairly constant in the beginning while the front and back sections got wider at a faster rate. Then I sped up the sleeve increases (to every-other row) while slowing down the body increases (to every fourth row), causing the seam to bend downward and creating something in between a raglan and a saddle shoulder. You can see from the stitch markers in the image above where I was increasing only every fourth row vs every-other row in each section, and what the resulting raglan seam looks like. There are precise details in the FO post about this sweater, but the key thing is that if you’re going to try this, you have to be really meticulous about your increase math, making extra sure you can fit all of your increases into the number of yoke rows you have available.

When I sat down to write this post yesterday, I thought about the fact that I now know there is this term out there, compound raglan (which I first heard on a knit.fm episode a couple of years ago), and I wondered what sort of norms or standards are reflected in people’s use of the term. So I googled it, which you’d think I would have done a long time ago! Apparently credit for the term goes to Maggie Righetti, who wrote about it in her book Sweater Design in Plain English long before I learned to knit. From what I can tell from the few blog mentions that come up in a Google search, her method involves increasing every fourth row vs every-other in certain places! Which means now I’m dying to know how close my approach is to hers. So if, like me, you want to know more about how to calculate for compound raglans, get your hands on a copy of her book.


PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: WIP of the Week No.1


WIP of the Week No.1: Ashley (aka @callistoknits)

WIP of the Week No.1: Ashley General

You all know what a nerd I am about the planning parts of sweater knitting, so you can imagine my joy at this phase of the Top-Down Knitalong — seeing everyone sketching and swatching and calculating. Oh, my heart! There are already over 400 posts on the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 feed at Instagram, and so far 82 projects linked to the Improv pattern page at Ravelry, most of them “In progress August 2016.”* Some people are still swatching, while others have already separated their body and sleeves, and I keep seeing people saying they’re “behind schedule” — but there is no schedule! Dive in whenever you want; finish whenever you finish. The only part that’s on a schedule is the weekly prizes, which run through the end of September — and today I get to hand out the first one!

Among the many amazing plans, I’ve been super impressed with Ashley, who is @callistoknits on Instagram and ashleygeneral on Ravelry, and whose sweater I’ve chosen as our first WIP of the Week. Ashley is making a boatneck pullover with a pretty little lace pattern around the yoke, in charcoal grey Lettlopi. She posted her first swatch and sketch a couple of weeks ago and has been savoring the process — trying different needle sizes for her lace motif, doing the math to fit her measurements and her stitch pattern, casting on and trying on. It’s been extremely fun to watch, and I’m eager to see how it all turns out! Definitely go check out her feed and her Ravelry projects, and don’t miss her adorable Pineapple Socks pattern while you’re there!

So congratulations, Ashley — you’ve won 12 skeins of Shibui Pebble in the color of your choosing! Please email me at contact@fringesupplyco.com to collect your prize! And thank you SO MUCH to my friends at Shibui Knits for providing this week’s incredible prize.

Next week’s WIP will win 7 luscious skeins of Purl Soho Flax Down, so keep those projects coming! Photo quality counts, of course (in focus and natural light, preferably!) but so does a good sweater plan and a good story, so tell us about your sweater on Instagram or Ravelry, or if you’ve blogged or posted elsewhere, leave a comment on the blog during the week so I can see! And tag it #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 wherever you share.

Have an amazing weekend, everyone — more on the knitalong (and NOT) next week!

*If you’ve knitted a sweater from my tutorial in the past, please take a second to link it to the Improv page so I can see them all!


PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: How to incorporate a stitch pattern in a top-down sweater

New Favorites: the Arranmore collection

New Favorites: the Arranmore collection

Do you guys remember those gorgeous skeins of charcoal and teal tweed yarn I posted about a few months ago and couldn’t say what they were? It can now be revealed that it’s the new Arranmore from The Fibre Co. — a yarn I cannot wait to knit with. (If only I could pick a color!) But what’s even better than the yarn is the collection of patterns that my friends at Kelbourne Woolens designed for it. The weirdly lit photos are bumming me out, unfortunately, but I saw these pieces in person at the trade show and there isn’t a single sweater or accessory in the whole collection that I wouldn’t want in my closet. And how often do you hear me say that? Pictured are the Killybegs cardigan and Swilly scarf by Meghan Kelly and Rosses hat by Courtney Kelley, but go look at the whole shebang. So good.

UPDATE: Check out the alternate colorway samples that went up on their blog late last week. GORGEOUS.

UNRELATED: I keep meaning to tell you the new autumn issue of Pom Pom has landed at Fringe Supply Co., chock full of good patterns and ready and waiting for you!


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: from Interweave Knits’ 20th extravaganza

How to incorporate a stitch pattern in a top-down sweater

How to incorporate a stitch pattern in a top-down sweater

For those of you wanting to incorporate a stitch pattern into your improvised top-down sweater, I’m going to do my best to explain how to do so. As much as I believe I have a grasp on the theory, I have only just done it for the first time (see above), so if anyone among you has superior sage advice to offer, please do speak up in the comments!

However you go about this, the tricky bit is “increasing in pattern,” right? If you establish a stitch pattern at the start of your neck, each section of the sweater (two arms, a front and a back) will get wider (more stitches) with every increase that you do. So you need to be able to figure out what each new stitch wants to be when you work it on its first row of existence. (Depending how you’re doing your increases, it may just be an increase stitch — i.e. a kfb — on the row where you create it, and you don’t need to decide what it is until the next row when you come back to it.) If you’re doing a really simple, symmetrical, 1-row pattern — like, say, 1×1 ribbing — it’s easy to figure out what each new stitch is, because it’s binary. If it’s next to a knit stitch, it will be a purl, and vice versa. Seed stitch, moss stitch, other simple repetitive patterns can be determined like that — just by looking at what’s sitting on your needles and deciding what the adjacent stitch should be.*

However, it gets more complicated if you’re using a more complex stitch pattern and if you’re doing neck shaping. I’m gonna break this down by difficulty level—


The easiest way of all to use a stitch pattern on your sweater would be to not start it until after all of the shaping is complete! You could definitely have a plain yoke with patterning around the lower parts of the body and sleeves.

The easiest ways to incorporate a stitch pattern on your yoke are: A) do the Reversible method described in the tutorial so you’ve got your full compliment of stitches in all four sections of your sweater and can simply establish your stitch pattern on the very first row, then all you have to think about with each increase is what those new stitches at either end of a section need to do. And B) stick with a simple repeat stitch pattern as noted above. As far as establishing the stitch pattern on row 1, unless there’s some reason to do otherwise, always center your stitch pattern within your stitch count and make it symmetrical. For example, if you’re doing 1×1 ribbing, start with an odd number of stitches in each section, so you can begin and end on a knit stitch. (Then think about what kind of raglan sts you may want to use to separate the sections visually.)

The easiest way to use a stitch pattern with a shaped neck (or more specifically a crewneck) is to restrict the stitch pattern to the center front panel of the sweater. Figure out your neck depth, how many increase rows it will take to get there, and how many additional stitches you’ll be casting on when joining in the round. Then center your stitch pattern within those cast-on stitches. At that point, there’s no increasing to worry about — you just have a set number of stitches within which you establish your pattern, then just carry on with it.


If you’re using a more complex stitch pattern — something charted and/or that plays out over a repeat of several rows — again, the easier way to do that would be to use the Reversible method so you’re working with a full set of stitches from the start. You may find it useful (or even necessary) to chart out exactly how the stitch pattern falls within your determined cast-on counts for each section of the sweater, and what will be happening as the stitches widen with each increase round. But again, in this scenario each section is only widening outward, so you only have to think about what happens as you add one stitch at each end.

How to incorporate a stitch pattern in a top-down sweater


Not difficult, necessarily, but the most difficult scenario is if you’ve got a more complex, charted stitch pattern and are planning to do neck shaping. In the scenarios above, the front and back are identical and all of the stitches exist as of cast-on. In this scenario, they are eventually identical — the front is the same as the back, only with a big chunk missing in the middle at the start. The two front neck sts at cast-on are the same as the stitch at each end of the back neck. But as you increase at the front neck and the front raglan at the same time, that section of your knitting is getting wider in two directions, forming a V shape as you increase, with the bottom of the V being that first stitch you cast on.

If your stitch pattern is a fairly straightforward vertical repeat like mine shown here, you might be fine simply charting out how the stitch pattern falls within the cast-on number for each section and then increasing in pattern. I wanted to be sure the front of the neckline (the additional cast-on sts at the join) wouldn’t hit at a weird spot in the cable pattern. I’m cabling every 12th row/round, so I took a minute to calculate how many rows my neck depth would take, how many increases would have been done in the back at that point, and thus how many sts I’ll be casting on for the front/join and on which row. What my math tells me is I’ll be casting on and joining in the round on the 26th row. So rather than doing the first cables on rows 12 and 24, I’ve decided to do the first one at row 8, then 20, then 32, so my front neckline (at row 26) falls comfortably between the cable rows.

Hopefully you can see in the image above that I also charted out the whole thing up to that point, just to be safe — centering my stitch pattern within the cast-on count for my back section (44 sts), which will eventually be mirrored on the front. The darker outward zigzags are the raglan increases for both back and front. The lighter inward zigzags are the neck increases on the front section only. (Getting one stitch wider at each increase point, every other row.) Where you see the cable symbol as half dotted, that’s where I’ll work the cable on the back on that row, but not on the front, because I don’t yet have enough front stitches in that spot to work my 6-stitch cable. (I use my trusty Knitters Graph Paper Journal for charting stuff like this and for keeping all my assorted notes and calculations and doodles.)

The hardest part is establishing the stitch pattern for the front stitches in the beginning while you have only 1 and then 2 and then 4 sts. So here’s my best tip: To keep this manageable, use the same stitch pattern on the front and back of your sweater and remember that they’re identical. When you’re wondering which 4 stitches those are, because you’ve increased both directions from that single first stitch and maybe feel a little confused, consult the first four stitches on the back and make the front stitches a mirror image of them. Once you build up a few more rows, you’ll be able to see your stitch pattern and know how to keep increasing until your neck is complete.

But wait!

There’s one more thing to consider before you cast on. If you are using an allover stitch pattern that will continue beyond the yoke and onto the body, you need to think about how your stitch pattern will play out where the back meets the front at the side seams — especially if you’re doing colorwork or a large and distinct repeat like I’m doing. My stitch pattern is 12 sts wide, and I do want it to fit perfectly into my body stitches. My target circumference is about 36.5″ and my stitch gauge is 6.5 sts/in. That’s 237 sts, or 118 each for front and back. If I round that up to 120 each for front and back (240 total), my 12-stitch repeat fits perfectly into it. (12 x 10 = 120) So you either need to tweak your stitch count, or figure out the most optimal non-perfect side seam match, and/or put a contrasting panel of some kind at each side so that the two stitch patterns don’t actually meet. There’s no right or wrong — just whatever feels best to you, for your sweater. If you’re working side-seam increases/decreases, keep that in mind too.

(It’s less of a concern on the sleeves since they’re funnel shaped — you’ll be decreasing down the length of them anyway — and are much less visible than the body of your sweater. Most likely, it won’t really matter how the stitches meet in the middle, only that they were centered in your sleeve-top stitches to begin with.)

If working out what happens on the body is more than you want to think about, plan on doing the patterning on the yoke only and work the body plain.

In summary:

– Center your stitch pattern within the stitch count for each section of the sweater (sleeves and back/front) and make it symmetrical — unless you’re being deliberately asymmetrical, of course

– Increase in pattern, either by reading the adjacent stitches or charting it out ahead of time, depending on the complexity of your pattern

– If you’re doing neck shaping, use the back stitches as a crutch to help you know what to do with the first few front ones

– Be mindful of how the stitch patterns match up at the side seams

Again, if anyone has any contrary or additional advice, please share it below. There are a lot of people planning stitch patterns on the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 feed, and I can’t wait to see them all take shape!


*If you’re not comfortable reading your knitting, I don’t advise incorporating a stitch pattern.


PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: Meet the Panel!