Road trip knitting

Road trip knitting

We’re in Florida this week* at my sister’s — our last chance for an escape before the holiday madness kicks in. (I work retail, you know.) My goal is to knit the entire pattern version of the chunky sleeveless turtleneck during the course of this week, so I packed up everything I needed, right down to my blocking boards and T-pins, into my blocking tub, and into the car it went. Labor Day was perfection — knitting at the top of the ladder to the upper deck of my brother-in-law’s boat while everyone else fished, the ocean wind blew, and I knitted in pure peace.

I did decide to knit the pattern version in Quince and Co’s Lark, but instead of the crow-and-egret marl of the swatch, I decided on this heathered black color called Sabine, and dear god was that the right decision! Talk about perfection.

*Don’t worry — I’m blogging and DG’s shipping. Field Bags are back, in case you missed it over the weekend.

The sweater that practically knitted itself

The sweater that practically knitted itself

Sleeveless, superbulky and stockinette. Apparently that’s the magic formula for being able to create a whole garment in tumultuous times! This thing must have knitted itself, though: It took so little time, in such small chunks, so far apart (in the midst of such chaos), that I have almost no recollection of doing it. But it’s so good! When I first seamed it a couple of weeks ago, I decided to do exposed seams on both the sides and the shoulders, but I wasn’t sure if I liked it so hadn’t woven in the ends. Once the neck was finished, I decided I did like the shoulder seams — the bound-off stitches along those edges have the same character as the slipped stitches along the armhole selvage, and the seams are so fat they look almost like epaulets. But the side seams weren’t working. Had I gone into it intending to do exposed seams, I would have slipped all of the selvage stitches, but since I had kept them in stockinette, that seam looked out of step with the other details. So I pulled out the mattress stitch, reworked the side seams to the inside, and voilà, I love it. (Although it does still need its final blocking.)

This one was knitted with the Shibui Merino Alpaca I bought when I heard it was discontinued. Held triple, it makes for the most gorgeous stitches — can you even deal with how beautiful that ribbing looks? But it is decidedly dense and heavy. There will be lots of times when that feels perfectly marvelous, but I also decided along the way that I want another one in something light and cuddly. And that when I knit that one, I’ll write up the pattern. So look for that down the road a bit.

>> Ravelry link

(Linen bento bag via Fringe Supply Co., of course.)

Hot Tip: Mind your edge stitches

Hot Tip: Mind your edge stitches

I’m pretty sure the first person to ever clue me in on this one was my pal Meg Strong. A lot of times there will be an edge of your knitting that’s exposed — say, the long sides of a scarf or the edge of a button band (when knit integrally or vertically). Or, as pictured above, the armhole edges of the superbulky sleeveless turtleneck I’m working on, which are especially prominent at this scale. If you work the edge stitches normally — for instance, in stockinette — you wind up with a bump on the edge of your knitting at each row. Sometimes it looks fine, like if it’s garter stitch ridges at the edges of the work anyway. But often it’s nicer to have that edge look smoother and more finished. Current patterns will often specify how to work edge stitches when they’re meant to be picked up or seamed together (e.g., stockinette selvage or twisted stitch selvage, or whatever the case may be), but it’s less often noted what to do when the edge will not be disappearing into a seam. For the cleanest finish on a visible selvage, all you need to do is slip the first stitch on each row with the yarn held in front, work to the opposite edge of the fabric as written, and then knit the last stitch. So on the right side, the first stitch gets slipped wyif. When you come back to that slipped stitch at the left edge of the wrong side, you knit it. Same thing on the wrong side: slip the first stitch wyif, work to the other end, knit the last stitch.

Try it on a swatch  — knit a few rows in plain stockinette and then a few rows with the edge stitches slipped — and you’ll see what a difference such a simple thing can make.

.

PREVIOUSLY in Hot Tips: Off-center your buttons

Then just like that, a sweater

Then just like that, a sweater

This felt like a miracle, after all the stress and distraction and feeling so disconnected from my making. While I was writing Friday’s post about not knowing what my next sweater project would be — about not knowing what my Hole & Sons yarn would be — I pulled my copy of Rowan Pioneer off my shelves, which is always a joy to spend time with. The leading contender for the H&S yarn is Dwell, from that book, but I have concerns about the armholes and wanted to look at the pics vs the schematic. On the next page is a sweater I hadn’t really taken note of before, Hearth. I don’t like it much — the waist shaping and the little ribbed cap sleeves and the cowl-ish neck put me off — but it brought to mind that Elizabeth & James sweater I praised here awhile back, and then I couldn’t get those photos out of my mind. Friday afternoon I had a much needed few moments of calm and focus, gazing at the various photos, imagining my own version and how I would wear it. And sketching it into the queue in my beloved Fashionary notebook, knowing for certain what my next sweater would be.

Friday night I wound three skeins of my camel-colored Shibui Merino Alpaca into one giant cake and cast on. At first, I thought I might loosely adapt Hearth, just leaving out the sleeves and the waist shaping, but after closer inspection I realized the only part of it that works for me is the cast-on count. So I’m winging it — working straight to my desired dimensions and writing shaping for almost slit-like armholes and a turtleneck that’s big but not enormous. The photo above is the first pass at the armholes — too cut in for what I want here — so I ripped back and redid it. I had knitted that entire back piece in two evenings, so I didn’t mind a bit.