Hot Tip: Knit all the parts at once

Hot Tip: Knit all the parts at once

Knitters will always tell you about socks and sleeves: knit them two-at-a-time so you don’t have that dread feeling of starting over with the second one. I feel the same way about ALL the parts. As much as I love a seamed sweater, I don’t enjoy starting back at the cast-on edge 4 or 5 times, especially once I’ve gotten into the rhythm of a chart or stitch pattern. So no matter what I’m knitting, I’ve become a polygamist: I rotate between the pairs or component parts rather than knitting them in the ol’ serial monogamy fashion. (Same for a top-down sweater — you’ll usually see me moving back and forth between the body and sleeves, advancing them all gradually.)

In the case of this fisherman sweater, I’ve now blocked a half-sleeve (as previously discussed) and the partial back, so I can see what’s really happening with my stitch gauge between the two (their being quite different, due to the differing stitch patterns) and make decisions about the respective sizes of the body and upper sleeves before I get to the underarms. So each time a piece went into the bath, that was a perfect chance to cast on the next one!

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39 thoughts on “Hot Tip: Knit all the parts at once

  1. That is going to be one gorgeous, beautiful, awesome sweater! Makes me want to check out some patterns on Rav. I have 2 “shares” of cormo when Juniper Moon was doing a campaign to support their farm. It’s probably a dk weight but I’m sure I could find a pattern or make adjustments.

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  2. Your pieces look so good, that I’ve decided to give this pattern a try. I’ve graphed the sleeves in Excel, and now I’m working on the body graph. I’m not sure if there is a way to add attachments in Ravelry, but if there is, I’ll upload my graphs to share when they’re done. Knitting-wise, I’m still on the ribbing.

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    • Oh, if you can share your Excel graphs on Rav it will be wonderful! I have the pattern book and have been following Karen’s progress closely but I don’t have the confidence to try graphing on what seems a grand scale…but this sweater is sooo gorgeous and I’d truly love to knit it… Have been reading “Charts Made Easy” and finished graphing a smaller project (Carolyn Doe’s Braids and Bobbles hat) Any help with the sweater graphs would be great! Also a discussion on how to translate the stitches count to a schematic for size will help, too.

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      • Translating stitch counts to dimensions is just simple math. Divide the number of stitches by stitches-per-inch for the width. Divide the number of rows by rows-per-inch for the height. (Important for looking at the yoke depth.) Of course, you have to base that on YOUR actual stitch gauge and row gauge, not what’s stated in the pattern. For this pattern, given the lack of other info, the only way to really find your gauge — if you’re wanting to be precise — is to do what I did and knit a few inches of the full piece and block it, then measure. As I mentioned above, the different distributions of the different stitch patterns all affect the overall gauge (and size) — the broken rib at the edges is more like a “normal” worsted gauge, while the raspberry stitch and cables are much denser, more stitches per inch, so that affects the average. Which means you really have to have the whole thing to measure, to get a true average.

        For the same reason, the sleeve gauge works out differently than the body. It’s denser at the cuff, where there’s no broken rib, and the average shifts as the broken rib grows. So I’m averaging 5.75 sts/inch at the elbow, wheras the cuff was something like 6.25/inch. I’m a control freak about upper arm circumference, so that shift in gauge is important for me to know and factor in.

        Of course, countless people have knitted this sweater without being OCD about it and been perfectly happy with whatever size it turned out!

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      • The graphs are coming out bigger than I’m used to because I haven’t been able to identify any “repeat” sections – it’s all stitch by stitch! Keep an eye on my Ravelry – mojorao – I haven’t created this project there, but plan to this week.

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    • To add a graph to a ravelry project, I select the portion of the spreadsheet I want and save it as a picture–a jpeg file. Then I add the file as an additional project photo.

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  3. I think it would drive me crazy, switching from one part to another and wondering where I’m at each time, not to mention the extra pairs of needles or tips needed. But I do see your point, once a part is finished the others are not far behind. This sweater is going to be a heirloom, I can tell. I feel the same with my own cream Aran, it gives me such satisfaction to know that I have this super classic sweater in my wardrobe for years to come, with proper care.

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  4. Thanks! I have been knitting garments since 1976 (and play knitting since 1969) and I never thought of that. I have been revisiting seamed garments because a/c or no a/c, it has been taking me longer to knit a mere tank top, no wool involved because I hate having the whole thing in my lap, the way it is when you knit it in the round. I have plenty of knitting needles after so many decades at it, this is completely the way to go. A great idea.

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  5. Thx! I had the same thought recently about a tank top I’m knitting that has a weird lace section at the collar. I was so frustrated with making errors that I decided to knit the front and back to the same point than I will work on the lace sections at the same time to make sure both are symmetrical.

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  6. Great idea. I also block work-in-progress. If it’s seamless, I just put all the stitches onto a length of waste yarn and soak the knitting with the yarn ball attached but not in the water. So many stitch patterns grow in unexpected ways, I find this is a method of avoiding unhappy surprises. It doesn’t work with superwash treated wools though, since they often need a short run through the dryer to pull them back into gauge (a reason I never use superwash for sweaters).

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  7. I kind of do this, with garments that are knit flat. I’ll cast on to a really long needle, with stitch markers between the front and back panels of a sweater, say, and knit them at the same time. I’m convinced, however rightly or wrongly, that my tension and gauge will be the same across both pieces and that everything will match up where it’s supposed to. So far, it works.

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  8. The only problem with this is, if your gauge in the actual pieces doesn’t match your gauge swatch, or maybe after seeing/feeling a large enough amount of the fabric, you wish you’d chosen a smaller or larger size, now you have to start over ALL pieces, instead of just the back or front. I prefer to knit the back or front to the armholes, block to get an accurate sense of the finished measurements, and only then, if I am satisfied, cast on the other piece. It’s just heartbreaking, if doing them all in unison, to discover after lots of knitting that a different size is needed.

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  9. The only time I dont knit sleeves or fronts, together is intarsia. Too much tangling. Other than that I am always switching things up and moving from fronts, to back to sleeves. Releaves the boredom! So glad to hear others do the same.

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  10. Oh wow I didn’t realise you could block halfway through a project (as I’m fairly new to thus blocking thing!). This may be a dumb question but do you just start knitting again on the block piece from where you left off if the gauge is correct and then reblock everything at the end again and it comes out the same width etc?

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  11. After having a lot of trouble trying to get the right front and the left front of my Bellows symmetrical I will definitely knit fronts together from now on, as well as sleeves by the way. I’m also new to blocking. For how long do you bathe your pieces?

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  12. Your sweater is looking incredible! I’m a methodical knitter and never seem to suffer from sleeve island or second sock syndrome. I honestly enjoy knitting them!

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  13. This tip came at the perfect time. I’m knitting my first sweater and the body is getting too big and bulky to knit on my public transit commute. A sleeve is much more manageable on muni. Thank you!

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  14. Do you always use the same type of needles for the different parts? I find that using different brands or materials can affect the gauge sometimes so I wonder if you would have to use, for example, all Lykke wooden or all Addi Turbo needles? If so, do you have multiple sets or just switch needle tips each time you work on a different section?

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    • Oh, for sure. Needles can make a big difference in gauge, so you absolutely always need to use the same needles throughout a project, no matter whether you knit parts sequentially or simultaneously. That’s one thing that’s great about interchangeables, but in addition to being able to switch the tips out, I tend to have extra tips (and even spare fixed needles) in the sizes I use most.

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  15. Snap! After years of monogamy, I recently started doing this with my current fairisle jumper. It’s so much easier repeating the pattern when it’s fresh in my brain. Don’t know why I didn’t do it before.

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