Here is an interesting picture (well it is at least for me lol) of three small gauge swatches each 20 stitches wide and 21 rows tall. The top two were knit on the same size 5 needle, the bottom swatch was knit on a size 3.
Garter stitch fabric has more rows per inch than stocking stitch fabric but what surprised me was just how much wider the garter stitch swatch was than the stocking stitch swatch. You can imagine how this difference would multiply over 200 stitches. To get garter stitch fabric the same width as the stocking stitch fabric I had to go down 2 needle sizes.
In March I began working on a pullover project for a warm weather design in a cotton/linen blend called Zoey from Juniper Moon Farm. The yarn calls for a size 3-5 needle. I happened to have an old Boye size 5 needle handy the day I got the yarn so I swatched with it. I liked the look of the swatch and used the number of stitches per inch that I got to flesh out the pullover design idea on paper. The plan was to bring the project with me to Colorado that coming weekend. When I was packing up to go I decided to use the size 5 needles from my Addi Click interchangeable set I got for Christmas.
I casted on with my Addis and started mindlessly knitting along. The pullover begins with a garter stitch band of about an inch and then proceeds in stocking stitch. In a couple days after working about 30 rows, I stopped and pulled it over my head. It was huge. Insert gnashing of teeth here. After much measuring I discovered two things. First the gauge on the slick Addi needles was much looser than the gauge on the Boye needle I used to knit the swatch. I knew that going from a metal needle to a, say, much 'grabbier' bamboo needle would have changed my gauge significantly but I was not expecting such significant change in gauge using metal needles of different brands. The second thing I discovered is that garter stitch by it's nature compacts the stitches making them wider which was also adding to the huge-ness. Insert glass of wine here and then frogging back 30 rows of over 200 stitches each.
Something else worthy of a gauge discussion is that stocking stitch gauge when knitting in the round can be very different than the gauge you get when knitting stocking stitch back and forth in rows. More often than not it is because the tension is looser on purl rows (this is true for most knitters) and when knitting stocking stitch in the round there are no purl rows. So when a pattern calls for gauge 'in the round' you need to do a circular gauge swatch. Here is an easy way to do a circular gauge swatch that doesn't require casing on lots of stitches.
Now back to my pullover. After a time out for me and my needles, I refigured the number of stitches I would need for a neckline that fits and began again. It is a fun pattern--a flirty little cold-shoulder number. A few weeks later, sample completed (love it--pattern coming soon). I set out to determine actual gauge so I could size the pattern up and down. I was using my Boye Stitch and Row gauge checker and an old tape measure I pulled out of my sewing basket. The tape measure I normally use was in another project bag. I typically use the Boye checker to count the stitches per inch and then the tape to measure the sample to double check my numbers. Well... nothing was adding up. My gauge, multiplied out for the stitch/row count, did not match the width, length, or any other measurement the tape was coming up with on the sample. I spent a good deal of time rechecking everything and in total frustration decided to let it all rest for a day.
When I picked it up again I used the tape measure to count stitches per inch (because my Boye checker was in yet another project bag and out of reach) and I came up with a different gauge than I got with the Boye checker. WHAT???? There is of course only one, albeit totally unexpected explanation. Here they are side by side. Crazy. A ruler and a contractor's tape measure proved the Boye correct. I trashed the tape measure but wished I could have done something way more dramatic to it like throw it in a roaring fire and watch it melt. Slowly.
Lessons for today include always swatch with the needles you will be using to actually knit your project. Also, if the pattern's called for gauge is indicated as in the round, swatch in the round. Another thing to consider is that when a pattern calls for different size needles for say the body of the garment and the ribbing on the cuffs and bottom, using different sizes of the same brand needles will give you the best results. And, finally, you may want to double check your tape measure. Just saying.
I have always been attracted to the world of Noro yarn from Japan. Their brand concept is "harmonize natural unevenness, asymmetrical pattern and complex color to portray the beauty of nature" and the resulting line is spectacular. I stand in front of their displays mesmerized by the swirling colors and soft feel of the skeins. Yet I hesitate to buy because knitting back and forth with those long color runs results in stripes of color and I really don't love stripes. You have to knit very long rows to have the colors blend without making wide stripes, or bend the rows to break up the stripes with short rows or mitering.
I knew this lovely silk, mohair, and wool blend would be perfect for a shawl and I decided on hexagons to break up the color runs. I wanted at least two color runs to appear in each hexagon and with a little experimentation found that about a 7 inch hexagon would work out just fine.
I linked half and whole hexagons together to create a somewhat triangular shape. To compliment the color pooling in the hexagons, I added a long garter stitch border to blends all the colors together for a finished look. I am so happy with the result.
I worked on this one a lot in Colorado where the nature's beauty is evident no matter which way you turn. Throughout the city of Steamboat Springs you will find creeks and streams and, of course, the Yampa River. They are all gorgeous tumbling displays 'of natural unevenness and asymmetrical pattern and complex color'. I couldn't resist naming this one Creekside.
Creekside's hexagons work up fast on size US 9 needles and are fun to make. The garter stitch border will not challenge you when you are watching Downton Abby or (finally!) Mad Men. For more pattern info click here.
PS: If you are ever in Steamboat don't miss this little gem. Try the BAT (bacon, avocado and tomato) Benedict with a side of the cheesy chile grits. Yummy!
I love Colorado. There is just something about the mountains that lifts my spirits and helps me find that peaceful place inside that often gets buried in the day to day stuff. I enjoy a little hiking and biking but mostly for me it is the quiet, the fresh air, and the gorgeous scenery that refreshes me like nothing else. I am not a skier anymore, but I love drinking hot chocolate and watching the skiers swish down the slopes.
The vest is knit back in forth in rows from the bottom up to the armholes. The work is then split and fronts and back are finished separately. Slalom stitch panels run down the asymmetrical front and the back. Stitches are picked up to work the collar and the ribbing around the armholes. Easy peasy. More pattern details are available here.
I hope to be back in Colorado soon, wearing my vest, sipping hot cocoa (maybe with a touch of peppermint schnapps) and reveling in my happy place.
You may remember me writing about my search for the perfect lay-flat edging for a pullover that turned into an all-over fabric pattern. Yes, Vertical Drop Stitch--fun to do and great looking--is now the body of my newest pullover pattern--Gianna.
Gianna is named for my 19 year old niece who lives in Germany. Gi and her very best friend, Sina, were here for two (too short) weeks. We had a wonderful time. I don’t get to see Gianna very often, and any time with her is so precious.
Gianna (the pullover) had a long incubation period. Initially I freestyled the design from the bottom up in Berroco's Maya in Cacao. I made it with ¾ length sleeves and a mid-hip length.
This summer, when I was writing the pattern up, I kept worrying that bottom up construction just wouldn’t give the knitter the same flexibility to customize fit as top down construction does. When I knit I like to adjust body and sleeve length to fit me perfectly and that is so much easier to do when you are knitting from the top down because you can try it on as you go. So I revised the pattern and re-knit the pullover for top-down construction. The second time, I made a larger size with short-sleeves and a cropped length in the Gulupa (purple) colorway. Short sleeved and cropped ‘cause I only had a few hanks in my stash ;) and though it is not a bad look, it was not what I wanted to publish. Not wanting to knit the pullover again (!) I had a sample knit up in the Avocado colorway with long sleeves and a longer bottom-of-hip length. Finally it was just right!
This is the most comfortable top. Not only is the Maya yarn soft and cozy, but the vertical drop stitch provides lovely ease (it is a modified rib stitch) to gently follow your curves--no waist shaping necessary--and looks great alone or layered over your favorite shirt.
Vertical Drop Stitch shown in it's relaxed state on the left (how it looks as you are knitting) and in it's stretched state on the right (how it looks on your body).
A note about the sizing. The finished measurements for this pullover will seem very small. The Size 2 that I am wearing above in Avocado has a finished measurement of 27". I have a 36 ½” chest and I still have plenty of room, and I mean plenty. I prefer the fit of the Cocoa version which has a finished measurement of 25 1/2". Pattern instructions include how to pick the best size for you. You can get more pattern/sizing details here.
Gianna and Sina left Monday, I miss them already.
I had an idea for a pullover with an open work diamond panel on the front and back with a ribbed yoke--kind of a hybrid between raglan and round yoke construction. I wasn't sure if I wanted a high or low neckline. So I decided to build the pulIover by working the body's raglan portion from the mid-shoulders down and then work the yoke up from the top of the body up so I could decide as I was knitting where I wanted it to stop: off the shoulder, portrait neckline, or funnel neck.
I haven't seen many patterns out there offering options for customization and including the how-to. So I thought I would give it a go. I ripped back the bind off and played with decreases to come up with the portrait neckline and now I am working on a funnel neck version. If all the math works out and it looks great there will be a pattern with the 3 versions.
I will be looking for test-knitters for this one soon, anyone interested? You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have a bag of Berroco's Maya in my stash--mostly mocha colored, but also a few hanks of navy and cream. Maya is a lovely cotton chainette with a touch of angora. It is so soft and easy to knit with and it is machine washable! I had been thinking of using it for a wide necked raglan pullover with striped sleeves and contrasting trim at the neck, cuffs and hem.
On a recent rainy morning, with my dog-eared stitch dictionaries spread out before me and a cup of hot tea (with sugar and milk, thank you very much!) I started searching for a unique edging--something other than the usual knit/purl ribbing--for the contrasting trim.
This isn't the first time a stitch pattern has driven a design idea for me. I built a pullover around Stamen Stitch (pattern will be available this fall), and slipped stitch patterns I admired grew into my Slipped Stitch Cowl collection.
You are probably expecting to see something here about a lightweight tee or tank in linen, or cotton, or hemp--you know, perfect for spring and summer knitting and wearing. Since I have spent the last few months preparing for fall/winter commercial publications and anything I begin working on now would be wouldn't be ready for publication until the fall when knitters are gearing up for winter knitting I thought instead to offer you ridiculously cute pictures of darling little lambs frolicking on early spring days instead--ha!
I am currently working on two fall/winter garments that I will self-publish this fall. After that, I will begin working on a spring idea or two to release early 2015. And then my knitting year and yours will hopefully coincide!! That being said, unless you are trying to knit an afghan while sitting in the sun, it is not so bad knitting cold wear items in the summer. Think socks, mittens, hats, and garments that are knit in pieces and then seamed--anything that doesn't cover your entire lap and make you hot will work great.
I love this time of year. The trees are budding out, grass is greening up and the promise of blooming flowers is right around the corner. I have planted a pot of pansies that make me smile every time I walk by. Today I hope to grab my needles and sit in the sun for a bit, 'cause tomorrow the high is only going to be 46 degrees-oh the joys of living in the Midwest.
In December I received emails, only 1 day apart, from the yarn company and one of the magazines wanting to contract for my designs. I was beyond thrilled. Due dates for completion of the samples and written patterns were in February and March. I knew it would be kind of tight with the holidays and a vacation we had planned in January but I felt it was doable and was soooo excited that I accepted both.
I finished the first project at the end of January. In early February as I was beginning the second, I heard from the other magazine--which just happens to be my favorite. They liked my design submission but wanted to use it for a theme other than the one I submitted for and asked if that would be okay. Seriously? YES! I received the yarn March 10th and today I emailed all pattern info and schematics to the tech editors and shipped the sample! A special shout out to my husband who drove the entire way on a long road trip back and forth to Steamboat Springs, CO, just to give me the knitting time I needed to get this last one done--thank you sweetie!.
Aside from my house being very, very dusty and a new callous on the pointer finger of my right hand, this has been a wonderful experience. The process has taught me so much. I have grown as a designer because of it and I am so thankful for these opportunities to grow JoJo Knits and to connect with people in the knitting/fiber industry.
So where will you see these designs? Sorry, all must be kept secret until publication in the fall, no names, pictures or particulars allowed. I will surely let you know they come out.
Tonight, a big martini is in order! The dusting can wait 'till tomorrow.
Months ago I began knitting hats for our new granddaughter Ariya. She was born last May and is so precious, and so easy going, not to mention pretty as can be, but I digress.
Our daughter, Ariya's mommy, loves flowers so I wanted to do flower themed hats for the baby. I used Rowan's Wool Cotton 4 ply which is delightfully soft and well suited for baby items. Here are the three that hats that made the cut.
I like having small projects like these on the needles. They are so portable. I knit practically the entire beanie on a long flight home just before the holidays.
What is harder to do... knit a hat for a darling little baby girl or get a good picture of her in it when it is finished? We took a zillion pictures of Ariya in these hats last weekend. She likes wearing them but keeping still for the camera is not her idea of fun. If she is awake, she is crawling and climbing stairs and pulling herself up or chasing after her big brother. She is happy to walk if you hold her hands. I am sure walking on her own is right around the corner. She smiles and laughs all the time and is so sweet, but again, I digress.
By the way, Happy New Year everybody!!