Sunday, June 20, 2010

Top-Down Design Tutorial 11: Figuring the Standard Yoke

Standard and saddle-shoulder yokes are relatively straightforward to calculate.

First, you need the back neck measurement, the shoulder measurement, and the sleeve cap measurement for the size you're making.

You'll start by making front right and left shoulders. Multiply your shoulder measurement by your stitch gauge. Cast on that number of stitches using a removable cast on for each shoulder. Knit until your front shoulders measure about one-third of your sleeve cap measurement, usually an inch or an inch and a half.

Leave your front shoulder stitches on a holder. Pick up and knit the right shoulder stitches from the cast-on edge. Multiply your back neck measurement by your stitch gauge and use the long-tail cast-on to cast on that number of stitches for the back neck. Pick up and knit the left shoulder stitches from the cast-on edge. These stitches together form the back of the sweater.

Work the wrong side row.

Work 1-3" of short rows across the shoulders and back to shape the shoulder slope. This puts more rows in the middle of the back than along the edges of the shoulders.

After you've finished shaping the shoulders with short rows, work even until the shoulder edge is the size of your sleeve cap measurement.

Your sweater will look like this:

The next step is to pick up the sleeves along the shoulder edge. Multiply your sleeve cap measurement by your stitch gauge. Pick up that number of stitches along each shoulder. Place markers to separate the sleeve sections from the body sections.

The corners at the edges of the sleeves are tight for the first several rows. You might need to pull your cable through at those spots in order to make that turn.

Next you'll need to figure out your arm increases. To find how many sleeve increases you'll need, take your desired sleeve width at the bicep and multiply by your stitch gauge. Add together the number of stitches you picked up for the sleeve cap, your underarm cast-on, and 4. Subtract that number from your desired sleeve stitches to get the number of sleeve increases you'll need. You'll do two sleeve increases on every increase row, so divide your sleeve increases by two to get the number of increase rows you need.

Subtract 2 from your underarm depth and multiply the result by your row gauge. This is the number of rows you have to do your sleeve and body increases. We'll call this number of rows the raglanline.

Divide your raglanline by your increase rows. Round up to the nearest even number.
That's your increase frequency. Now multiply your increase frequency by the number of increase rows and subtract that number from your raglanline to get the number of plain rows to be worked.

Subtract 5 from your sleeve increases. Work that number of sleeve increases at your calculated frequency. After that, you'll work the number of plain rows you calculated. Finally, you'll work 5 more sleeve increases at your calculated frequency.

Having figured the sleeve increases, you now calculate the body increases. Multiply your upper chest measurement by your stitch gauge. Subtract your back stitches from the desired upper chest stitches to find your upper chest increases. Divide by two to get the number of upper chest increase rows. Make those increases every other row at the beginning and end of the back and front sections of your sweater.

You'll work the back and front even (once you've filled in the front neck line) until just before the underarm. Take the desired full chest measurement, divide by two, and subtract your upper chest stitches from that to get the number of full chest increases you'll need. Divide by two to get the number of full chest increase rows.

Add the upper chest increase rows to the full chest increase rows to get the total increase rows you need. Subtract this number from the raglanline to get the number of rows to knit plain.

So, like with the sleeves, you'll first do the upper chest increases every other row. Next, you'll knit the plain rows even. Then, you'll work the full chest increases to the underarm.

As you're shaping the body, you're also shaping the sleeves and working the front neck:

See how the sweater is shaping up? Once you've joined the neck, you've done all the tricky knitting in the sweater.

And here's the neck being joined up:

And the sweater with half the body knit:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

All Sorts of Excitement

I've made some substantial improvements to the KnitFitter. Go over and check it out! (See sidebar.)

I've also used the KnitFitter to write patterns for all sizes of the poncho sweater for children. It's a plain text file with all of the patterns included.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Using the KnitFitter

If you're following my top-down design tutorial (see sidebar), you can use my open source KnitFitter program to do the math and write the knitting instructions for you.

The KnitFitter is a Python program. It takes an input file containing the following sweater fields and outputs the instruction for knitting the sweater. To run the KnitFitter program with the input file Mysweater.txt, type the following at a command prompt:

python Mysweater.txt

The input file contains parameters to specify the design and size of the sweater. Each parameter is specified by a keyword followed by a colon(:) followed by the value of the parameter. If you do not specify a parameter in the input file, the KnitFitter will use a default value.

The current input parameters are:

Patternname: {Name of Pattern}

The Pattername parameter is just a name for this particular sweater. It can be any string.

Sweatertype: [raglan, poncho, round yoke, saddle shoulder, standard]

The Sweatertype specifies the basic construction type of the sweater. It can be one of raglan, poncho, round yoke, saddle shoulder, or standard. The The default is a raglan sweater.

Style: [cardigan, pullover]

The style indicates whether the sweater opens in front or not. It can be either cardigan or pullover. The default is a pullover sweater.

Neckline: [crew, scoop, vee, shawl]

The Neckline specifies the type of neckline for the sweater. It can be one of crew, scoop, vee, or shawl. The default for poncho sweaters is a vee; the default for all other sweater types is a crew neck.

Neckdepth: {Neck depth}

The neck depth indicates the depth, in inches, of the front neck. This applies only to vee and scoop necks.

Sleeves: [none, tapered, rectangular, bell, puffed]

The Sleeves can be none, tapered, rectangular, bell or puffed. Currently, only tapered sleeves are implemented. Short sleeves can be specified by modifying the Sleevelength parameter in the sizing portion of the input file.

Mainstripe: {Main stripe}
Accentstripe: {Accent stripe}

Mainstripe and Accentstripe apply to poncho sweaters only. They indicate the length, in rounds, of the main and accent stripes on the sweater. When these numbers are specified, the KnitFitter uses them to fill in the back neck with an even stripe pattern.

Stitchgauge: {Stitch gauge}
Rowgauge: {Row gauge}
Diagonalgauge: {Diagonal gauge}

These three parameter specify the gauge at which the garment will be knit. The first two are the standard stitches and rows per inch from the knitter's gauge swatch. The Diagonalgauge is used only for poncho sweaters. It's needed because poncho sweaters are knit on the bias.

Sizingclass: [Men's, Women's, Child's]

The Sizingclass indicates which sizing table the KnitFitter should use to find standard sizes. The default is Women's.

Size: {Size}

The Size indicates which standard size to use. Children's sizes are 6 months, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, and 12. Women's sizes are even sizes based on chest measurements, 30-50. Men's sizes are even sizes based on chest measurements, 34-50. If you specify a standard size, all measurements are taken from the standard size chart.

The remaining parameters all specify custom sizing. They are only processed if the input file does not include a standard size. All measurements are in inches. The custom sizing parameters are as follows (shown here with their default values):

Backneck: 5
Underarmdepth: 10
Upperchest: 15
Chest: 40
Chestdepth: 3
Bodylength: 20
Sleevelength: 18
Upperarm: 16
Wrist: 8
Shoulder: 4
Sleevecap: 4

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Top-Down Design: Gloves without a Pattern


Death defying!

Watch as the intrepid knitter negotiates the tubes and bends of finger-down gloves without a pattern!

Or even a gauge swatch.

Gloves are one of the trickiest knits to fit well. They need to fit snugly, but not too tightly. The fingers need to be long enough but not so long that they're awkward at the fingertips. Those little tubes have a small tolerance for error.

Yarn for gloves should be smooth and strong and soft. Sock yarn works pretty well, but I usually prefer sport or DK weight. I like wool/silk blends for their combination of warm, lightness, and strength.

Gloves should be knit more tightly than hats or sweaters, but perhaps not quite as tightly as socks. If you're knitting with sock yarn, choose the recommended needle size or the same size needle you would use to knit socks. If you're knitting with DK or sport yarn, choose a needle a few sizes smaller than the one recommended on the label.

Cast on one stitch for the first finger. I like to knit my fingers in pairs using magic loop or two circs, but you can also knit them singly if you prefer.

Row 1: Knit in the front and back of your single stitch twice for a total of 4 stitches. Divide the four stitches for circular knitting.
Round 2: Knit in the front and back of each stitch for a total of 8 stitches.
Round 3: Knit

The next step is to guess how many stitches around you'll need for your index or ring finger. The aim here is to get glove fingers to fit each of your fingers. The index and ring fingers tend to be about the same size, smaller than the thumb or middle finger but bigger than the pinkie. By knitting those fingers first, you have a good chance of hitting the right diameter for at least some of your fingers.

First, guess your gauge (5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 stitches per inch). If you have small hands, your target (depending on your gauge) will be (10, 12, 14, 16, 18) stitches. If you have medium hands, your target will be (12, 14, 16, 18, 20) stitches. If you have large hands, your target will be (14, 16, 18, 20, 22) stitches.

Round 4: Increase evenly across the round to get your target number of stitches.

Knit a couple of inches and then try the tubelet on the fingers of the intended wearer.

If the tubelet fits any of the fingers snugly but comfortably, eureka! you have a finger.

If the tubelet is too big or too small for any of your fingers (this has never yet happened to me, but it could), guess how much bigger or smaller it would need to be to fit your index or ring finger. Rip out the tubelet and repeat the process until you have a finger.

Now keep knitting the finger until it is long enough. It should be a little (maybe a quarter of an inch) too short because the finger will stretch part of the hand to accommodate itself. For the thumb, measure to the top part of the hand where the thumb joins.

When you have your first pair of fingers, select a different target finger. The middle finger is about 20% bigger than the index and ring fingers, the thumb about 25% bigger, and the little finger about 20% smaller. Give or take, depending on the hand of the person you're knitting for.

Put your finished fingers on holders and keep making tubelets until you have snug homes for all your fingers:

When you've finished all your fingers, string an index finger, a middle finger, and a ring finger together onto your needles like this:

The fingers need to be joined together where they meet. Some people suggest that you knit the edge stitches of adjacent fingers together. I find that this leaves a hole, which I don't like. I take the four edge stitches of each finger (two on the front needle, two on the back) and graft them to the four edge stitches of the adjacent finger, leaving all stitches on the working needles.

The grafting is fiddly and time-consuming, satisfying to the knitting perfectionist, but probably onerous to everyone else. If you don't want to graft, just tuck the loose ends of yarn inside the fingers. When you've finished the gloves, you can go in and sew up any apparent holes.

When you have the three fingers together, knit a couple of rounds, a quarter inch or so, and then join the pinkies to the other fingers.

Knit one round with all four fingers.

Next round: *K3, k2 tog*

This will eliminate about 20% of the stitches. Knit a couple more rounds, then try the gloves on. If they look like they're going to be at all loose around the palms, do some more decreases. Keep decreasing, trying on, and knitting plain until you have a nice fit for the palm.

Note that I put the pinkies on the inside in this photo. This is the wrong way to do it. Put the pinkies on the outside and the thumbs on the inside. It makes the gloves easier to try on.

Knit straight until the palm of the glove comes down to the spot where the thumb joins.

Join the thumb in the exact way that you joined the other fingers. Place markers one stitch on the hand side of the former thumb stitches. You will use these stitches to make matched decreases every 3 rounds or so until you have eliminated all the former thumb stitches.

Keep knitting until all of the thumb stitches are gone. Try on the glove. With luck, it should be about wrist length by now. If not, continue even until it is.

Next round: *K3, k2tog* cheating enough so that your total number of stitches on each glove is an even multiple of 4.

Change to needles 2 or 3 sizes smaller than your working needles. Finish with a couple of inches of k2, p2 ribbing.